Alison Marie Smith

Life, Leadership & Spiritual Formation in Lonely Places

The Freedom of Being Honest

I will never forget the first time my husband and I visited the Utah Ikea four years ago.

image002We were in our mid-twenties, newly married, had just moved to Utah from Michigan, and needed to furnish our new apartment. With a tape measure, store map, and golf pencil in hand, we rode the escalator to the showroom.

Immediately, we were surrounded by shopping carts filled with crying children. Each cart we passed seemed to contain at least three, sometimes five, little humans, pushed by their courageous mothers. I tried not to stare as I internally exclaimed, “Where am I?! Is this a Twilight Zone episode where children rule the world?”

I’ve obviously seen children before, and I adore their honesty and humor. But I had not seen them in such mass quantities. According to the 2010 census, Utah has the largest household size in the country, almost one full person above the national average. One explanation for this is that Utah is home to the Latter Day Saints’ (Mormon) religious headquarters. The church values family highly, which they often express by having many children. People warned me that living in Utah was like living in a different country. But I was unprepared for the cross-cultural dissonance I experienced…

Read the rest of my story over at the InterVarsity USA blog


  1. Alison –

    I deeply appreciated your post that I found via the IVCF USA blog today. We have similar stories – I moved from Michigan with my husband to SoCal 2 years ago, and though we trusted it was where God wanted us, the comments about how “You must *love* being in California now!” were difficult. I *didn’t* love California the way it seemed everyone else there did, but I also wanted to make friends, so I wasn’t always honest in my reactions (I wish I could have said things like “Actually, I really miss the changing seasons and the quiet spaces and the sense of hospitality that is just different here.”)

    I am inspired to write some honest haikus or journal entries. I have become more honest with friends that I now can consider close, but the first part of adjusting is hard! Thanks for sharing your story so openly and honestly – you are not alone!

    Cat Gordon

    • Thank you for commenting, Cat! I totally relate to your caution about not always sharing your honest reactions with potential friends. I think that’s where some my hesitation came from too! I’m glad that you have some friends you consider close; it’s so hard to build relationships when you’re essentially starting from scratch! It’s so nice to hear from a fellow Michigander :)

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